by Rachel Ogbu
A woman allegedly had a heart attack after she was told her baby was strangled to death by the thief who stole her car.
Zhou Xijun, 48, stole the car in the north-eastern Jilin province of Chinese after the baby’s parents had left the child alone for 10 minutes with the car doors unlocked and the engine running.
According to reports, the father had only just run into the shop where he worked to turn the heat up so the room could get warm before he brought his two-month-old baby inside but in a statement, Zhou said he had “discovered a baby in the back seat of the stolen car, stopped at the side of a road before strangling the baby to death and burying it in the snow”.
He handed himself in a day later and confessed, according to state-run media.
Jilin police said the body of the baby has been recovered and the child’s mother was being treated in hospital.
The case caused a storm in China, generating far more attention than the annual meeting of China’s parliament which opened on Tuesday.
Internet users expressed their disgust at the crime and many called for Zhou to be put to death.
“Killing him once would not be enough,” one user of Sina Weibo, a website similar to Twitter, wrote.
Another added: “I would never have imagined that what people most feared would actually happen … The killer should be severely punished.”
However others entered into debates about negligent parents, calling for harsher punishments for those who fail to protect their children.
A candlelit vigil for the baby was held in Changchun on Tuesday evening. Lights were dimmed at 10.10pm and a moment of silence was observed.
The latest UN figures on the murder rate in China puts it at one per 100,000 people, among the lowest in the world.